Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Visiting with my Dad

So, we celebrated Christmas early (on Saturday) to get up here to MA early and surprise everyone with a visit and some Christmas cheer. They've been expecting us on Christmas Day and we got here on Christmas Eve (afternoon). We surprised my mother as she dissolved into tears within a few seconds of opening the door. It's been a very tearful visit so far among all immediate and extended family members.

I'm so glad to be up here with my Dad--holding his hand, hugging him, kissing his head, telling him things, repeatedly expressing my love for him. The kids have been holding his hand and saying, "I love you, Vavo." And he's been calling out for Mark in earnest and asking Mark to hold his hand. Mark's got the patience of a saint and has been helping to move him, feed him, and keep him hydrated and comfortable. My Dad holds his hand and feels more secure with him here, not just because he’s a doctor, but also because he’s strong and capable and kind. And most importantly, he’s good to me, his little girl, and to our children.

It's good to be with my Dad. I love to feel his hand holding mine. He's so thin and so weak. It's exactly what I've expected but that doesn't make it any easier. I cried within minutes of seeing him and talking with him and holding his hand. How can that be him, so weak and elderly-looking in his hospital bed? How can he be so weak and sick? How can he be so dependent on others? How has it gotten so bad so quickly? How can he be dying?

It's a strange juxtaposition to hear my Dad's very labored breathing and his nearly-inaudible groans for help amidst the sounds of Christmas music. It's kind of depressing, to be honest. Cognitive Dissonance. It's so strange and melancholy to hear "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" playing on the radio while you sit and watch your Dad fade away into the next life.

I miss him. I'm here with him and I miss him. I miss his healthier, more vibrant self. Parkinson's Disease is a thief. It's a cruel and horrible disease. I ache for him. He's trying so hard to tell us things and having such difficulty getting the words out. It's so difficult to not understand his requests. I don't want to make him feel badly so I tell him that I'm having a hard time understanding and could he please say it again. It takes so much energy and breath for him to repeat it and sometimes he repeats as best he can 5, 6 times before we maybe get what he's saying. It pains me to stand at his bedside and feed him bottles of Ensure and see his dry, dry toothless mouth and tongue trying desperately to suck and when I don't see the liquid rising through the straw, I feel pained at his extreme difficulty to eat (drink), to sustain himself, to keep himself alive. He's fading. What happens when he can't suck any more (which is what's happening)? My cousin's wife who has worked hospice for years says it becomes less of an issue as he'll be drinking less and less as he fades away.

Everyone's consensus has been that he's been hanging on to see us so that he can die. I've felt that, too. We got here yesterday and we've been visiting with him though he hardly ever opens his eyes. I know he knows it's us because he can say our names and squeeze our hands to let us know that he knows it's us. I feel so conflicted. I don’t want him to die, yet I do want him to die. I want relief for him. And I’d actually prefer that he die while we’re visiting rather than leaving and waiting for that phone call that I know will make me catch my breath and collapse sobbing even though we know it’s coming.

Yesterday, my eccentric uncle who lives next door threw his annual, traditional, Portuguese humongous Christmas Eve dinner with all the extended family. I forget how much I miss these crazy people who are my relatives. It’s like a mix of an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” on speed. And Dope. And lots of alcohol. It’s a total riot. But even among the occasional insult and yelling, it’s full to the brim and overflowing with love. Functional or dysfunctional is up for debate, but it’s love, love, love. So many of us standing together in the solidarity of love and family and concern for my Dad around his bed. I’ve cried tears and my cousin Steve who is 47 years old reached across my Dad’s bed and held my hand. I spoke on the phone with my Dad’s sister who was hysterically crying in Florida because she’s torn about the holidays, putting on a happy face for her grandchildren but wanting to be with her “sweet, handsome brother.” She had heard him moan in the background and was inconsolable. My Dad’s brother came over with his wife. Both left in tears. Merry Christmas indeed. My loud, crass, potty-mouth, obnoxious (and I mean all of that lovingly) cousin Johnny who is sooooooo good to my Dad and so good at keeping things light and funny couldn’t take seeing his favorite uncle reduced to a weak body of bones and shallow breathing. My sweet, tiny, bewigged, adorable, oldest aunt (who’s well in her 70s) kept looking at my Dad and leaving the room shaking her head and saying nothing but “Shit!” And to be truthful, it gave us all a much-needed laugh through our tears.

Everyone’s done a great job making things nice and happy and upbeat for the kids. Fabulous really. Joe’s parties are always great. Jim’s been so thoughtful and generous and kind, making me cry in the process. And my brother has been my Dad’s right-hand man. It’s been so good to be together. I hadn’t seen my brother in over 4 years. It’s been good to be together and grieve together and talk about fun memories. My Dad still has his sense of humor. Sure, it manifests at 5 in the morning when we’re all trying to sleep and he’s telling us about how he isn’t the least bit amused by the lady who bought our old house in Swansea and had the audacity (I mean, really! Even I’m annoyed) to cut down his grapevines. And he has the wherewithal to ask the hospice nurse to put a sign on the door. “Sure! What would you like it to say, honey?” “Write ‘Get Lost.’” He’s generally so hospitable, but he’s tired and the steady stream of visitors sometimes wears him out. So, this makes us laugh. Again, much needed. I love this man.

He keeps calling me and holding my hand and telling me he loves me. I love him and keep telling him, too. I love him so much. He hasn’t ever said an unkind word to me. Ever. That is absolutely no exaggeration. If that’s not a testament to the kind of loving father that he is, I don’t know what is.

M, of his own accord, runs in and says, “I want to hold Vavo’s hand” and then walks out a bit later and says, “Hey, watch how high I can jump!” K says, “I want to see Vavo” and comes back and finds my Mom and I in tears as I feed my Dad. I tell her “it’s okay for people to be sad” and she hugs my Mom and makes her laugh.

So, everyone, including us, figures he’s been holding on to see us and then feel that he’s able to die. As I’ve visited with my Dad, I’ve been searching for some kind of sign from him that it’s true. He mostly talks to me with his eyes closed and my hand holding his, so I hadn’t gotten that look and confirmation yet. Well, yesterday, I got that recognition. And while it was the recognition and assurance I’ve sought, it frightened me. It startled me. I wasn’t so sure that’s what I wanted to see even though it kind of was. I remember it clearly. I walked into the room as many relatives stood around his bed in the dark. As it’s been. And then I noticed that his eyes were open and I picked up my pace, earnest to see my Dad’s eyes and have him see mine. He looked past everyone as I walked in the room and he did his own kind of double take. I saw it. And it made me catch my breath. As he made that recognition—that look of “Oh my gosh, that’s Stacy, that’s Stacy” his look was a mix of joy, relief, and sorrow. I don’t know how to explain it. It went quickly from joy and recognition to relief and he began to relax himself and cry softly and weakly into his shoulder. I knew instinctively what he was thinking. He was thinking, “I can die now.” I felt it. And it both startled and relieved me, too.

I’m jealous of my dad’s lecture to my brother. In the past few days, his speech has become so labored and nearly inaudible so that it’s difficult to know what he wants to tell me and I’m desperate to know. I’ve been wanting some one-on-one time with my Dad, some really good one-on-one time. With all the commotion of the holidays, visitors, and my Uncle Joe’s party, it’s not been easy to get that. As my mom and brother and I “took shifts” to get something to eat at Joe’s, I got that one-on-one time. Gladly. My cousin’s wife, Tracy got a nursery monitor so we can hear him cry out when he wakes. He’s sleeping so much more than before and he struggles to get voice and volume to let us know he needs help, food, water, attention, a hand to hold. My brother told me he’d go get a bite to eat while I stayed with Dad and that if I needed him to say so and he’d hear it on the monitor at my uncle’s house since he’s right next door in the condo that shares a wall with my parents’ condo. I started to visit with my Dad and have that talk with him—where I thank him, tell him I love him, that I know he loves me, and tell him it’s okay to die. I wondered if I’d be able to do it without crying. I doubted it, but I tried. I started strong anyway.

I remembered the nursery monitor and whispered into it to let my brother know that I was turning it off to talk with Dad. I switched it off, took a deep breath, sat by him, held his hand, put my head near his, and started to speak. He struggled to talk so I tried to guess what he’d say and asked him to squeeze my hand to let me know that he heard me and confirm what I was guessing. It went something like this:

“Daddy, I love you.”

A very labored “I love you, too, Bibi” that sounded like one longish word.

“Daddy, I know that you know that you’re dying. It’s okay. I love you, Daddy. And I’m so glad you’re my Daddy.” I started to cry but held it together. I told him that he’s always been kind to me. Always. And that I love him and know he loves me, too. “Right, Daddy?” He struggled to say yes. So I said, “Squeeze my hand, Daddy, to let me know.”

A gentle, yet strong squeeze.

“Daddy, I’m happy. Mark’s so good to me. We have great kids. We’re a happy family. Bobby (my brother) and I are friends and we can look out for Mom, okay?”

Another gentle squeeze.

“Daddy, it’s okay. You’ve worked hard your whole life and you’ve suffered so much and we don’t like to see you suffering. It’s okay, Daddy. It’s okay for you to die. We’re okay, Daddy.”

A gentle squeeze. “I know you hear me, Daddy. I know you know.”

And here’s where I started to sob: “I’ll miss you like crazy, Daddy, but it’s okay. I love you. You’re so loved. So many people love you. You’re a good man. Such a good Daddy. I love you so much.”


And then we laughed and talked about how maybe in the next life when he’s not suffering and he’s more whole, he’ll be able to play tennis and soccer and checkers. He squeezed my hand. I kissed his head.

Since then, he’s sleeping more and eating far less. His breathing has gotten much deeper and erratic, sometimes stopping completely. He’s having Cheynes-Stokes respiration. He’s struggling to suck through his straws. He’s having such difficultly swallowing. He lays on his back all day and night and moans. We don’t know how much longer he has. I hope it’s soon. This is agonizing. I love my Daddy so much. And with each passing minute, I’m more and more nervous about leaving and about what’s next with my Daddy and with my Mom. “Silent Night, Holy Night.” The background radio music is so strange.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Dad is Dying

I fall asleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. And some nights, like yesterday, I toss and turn at 1am and burst into tears saying, "We were going to throw them a 50th wedding anniversary party!"

I have so many thoughts in my mind. Dad hasn't seen our house. He hasn't seen our yard. He hasn't seen our business. I think about things like the dynamics should we have more children.

My mom and I have something in common--we've both got Dads with Parkinson's Disease (my sweet Vavo died when I was 18). Of course it's not some kind of sick contest, but my Mom's Dad got to see her have grandchildren. I feel so young for this. I don't like the phrase "It's not fair" because it's so whiny, but I have to admit that it doesn't seem fair.

I miss my Dad. I want to get up there and hug him. I want to hold his hand. I want to tell him I love him. All of those things are no different than what I usually do with him. We've always been affectionate. I am REALLY wanting to get up there and do it again. I'm yearning for that.

I want to tell my Dad things and hear what he wants to tell me. I want to tell my Dad things I've been thinking about, things he's taught me.

He's taught me that a kind answer turns away wrath.
He's taught me to have a sense of humor.
He's taught me to give to others without hesitation.
He's always pulled over to help someone on the side of road as if by instinct. No hesitation.
My Dad has taught me to play soccer. Volleyball. Tennis.
My Dad has taught me to ride my bike.
He's taught me to swim.
He's taught me to fish.
He's taught me that if the boys try to hit me on the playground to punch them as hard as I can.

My Dad has always been strong, athletic, active, giving, generous. How it is that Parkinson's Disease can have him laying there a shell of who he's always been is beyond me and it's cruel. It's a thief and it's horrible. He's completely dependent on everyone around him, something he's not ever been before, something he's not ever wanted to be. He's always had dignity. Almost to a fault. And yet he sits and waits to be fed, changed, and washed. How can that be? He deserves to be treated with dignity.

I miss him. So much. I've always been a Daddy's girl and I want my Daddy. I want to hear him call me "Bibi" and feel his hand on mine. I want his kisses on my cheek. I've got to tell him all the things I'm thinking and feeling. Hopefully without crying and without it sounding like a "goodbye" speech. I hate that the next time I see him it's basically to say "Goodbye." How can I walk away after that? How can I "return to normal?" How can I move forward with all we're doing? When things seem to be changing so much. Even though we've all known it's coming, it seems to have snuck up on us just the same. And it's cruel.

My Dad longs to feel worthy, forgiven of anything he's ever done. He's not ever felt good enough at anything. I want him to see himself the way I see him. As strong despite his disease. As kind despite his faults. As dignified despite his condition. As good. As kind. As guileless.

Guileless. It's the word that keeps coming to mind to describe my Dad. Generous and Guileless. My Dad is truly a man without guile--it's not that he doesn't let things about people irritate him . . . he doesn't even
notice those things in the first place. He's simply that kind of a great guy. So, it's hard.

And it's hard on my Mom. I ache for her. As an adult especially, I think of what she's going through and how much it affects her. I think of being with her after my Dad dies and consoling her all I can. She's so young to be widowed. I haven't ever pictured her alone. I haven't ever pictured either of them alone. It's not right. Again, it's not fair. How can she amble about the house alone? He's become her whole life. He's become her every day. She hardly has a moment to herself as she serves him, cares for him. How, after 48 years, can she go from that to having all her moments to herself? And how do we all go on knowing he's not there? When we call and talk to my Mom, we know he's there, even if we don't talk to him. And when we do talk to him, it's always good to hear his voice. And he's always calling out his two cents when we're on the phone anyway, even if his two cents have nothing to do with what we're talking about.

It's hard to feel conflicted, simultaneously wanting relief for him yet selfishly wanting him well for us. It's a cruelty of mortality.

And trying to explain this to our kids is so difficult. How do you explain that Vavo might not recognize them? Especially when their common sense, faith-filled answer is, "I know! When he asks who we are, we tell him and then he'll know!" How do you explain that Vavo's not getting better? That it's not a cold? How do you explain that he's dying and that people are really sad about it? How do we explain the tears my Mom will shed? That we'll all shed? Is it confusing for them? Is it scary? How to best handle it?

When my Dad had his extremely scary heart attack 5 years ago and was being kept alive by a mechanical pump, I wrote the following:

My Daddy

When I was a baby, my Daddy gave me a bath every night.

On my first day of school, my Daddy told me that if anyone hit me, “hit ‘em back!”

When I went to the spelling bee, my Daddy sat in the crowd and rooted for me.

When I played soccer in grade school, my Daddy practiced outside with me in our yard.

When I would ask him when he was going to join the church so we could get sealed as a family, my Daddy would say, “Someday, honey.” And I knew he meant it.

When I ask my Daddy for $5, he gives me $20. When I ask for $15, he gives me $50.

My Daddy always made sure I had plenty for field trips.

My Daddy always lets me keep the change.

My Daddy always took me to McDonald’s whenever I wanted it, even if I only ate “bites.”

My Daddy always gave me the good meaty parts of his fish at dinner so I wouldn’t have to pick out the bones.

My Daddy always tries to fatten me up so I can be “healthy.”

My Daddy taught me how to fish, swim, and bike and wasn’t ever too busy to do any of those things with me.

My Daddy teaches me by example that it’s important to always serve and help people.

When I started noticing specific boys, my Daddy pointed out to me all of the reasons why they weren’t good enough for his little girl.

When we’re driving, my Daddy always puts his hand in front of me to keep me safe.

When two boys in the stake “kidnapped” Kora and me, my Daddy went to the store to get the ransom—root beer floats!

When I dated my first real boyfriend, my Daddy pretty much approved.

When my Daddy would sit up on the stand, he’d wink at me and make me smile!

When my Daddy got baptized, he looked so very handsome in his white suit.

When we got sealed as a family in the D.C. temple, my Daddy was glowing!

When my Daddy called me at college, he always said, “I love you, Bibi.”

When I brought my husband-to-be home from college, my Daddy approved.

When I left on a mission, my Daddy was the bishop who sent me off.

When I was on my mission, I got great letters from my Daddy.

When I got home and quickly got engaged, my Daddy approved again.

When Mark and I got sealed in the temple, my Daddy sat in the bride’s father’s seat and that means so much to me.

When we moved to Arizona and bought a mobile home, my Daddy came, checked it out, gave it his stamp of approval, and complimented us on a great money deal.

My Daddy gets us good tools and works with Mark on projects.

My Daddy encourages me to do well in school and has confidence in me.

When Kate was born, my Daddy called to ask about us all.

When Kate was blessed, my Daddy came out to be in the circle.

My Daddy is a great VavĂ´ who calls to talk to Kate. He always says, “I love you. I love the baby.”

My Daddy takes Kate on walks.

My Daddy gives us gardening tips.

My Daddy is proud of me.

My Daddy worries about me.

My Daddy cares about me.

My Daddy calls and listens to how things are going.

I’m 28 years old and my Daddy calls me “Bibi” and I love it!

All this and more, you do for me, you teach me. Thank you! I love you, Daddy!

My Dad is so proud of his granddaughters and grandson. He loves us all so much.

So many thoughts. So many reminders. His big, old orange truck. I used to play in the back. I used to go on oh-so-many landlord and building errands with him. My Dad building our basement. Home Improvement stuff. Getting tools with Mark. Getting us stuff at Lowe's. Checkers. My Dad loves checkers. The smell of sawdust reminds me of my carpenter Dad. My Dad doesn't have any fancy degrees and it soooo doesn't matter. It hasn't ever mattered. My Dad has always seemed more of a wise man than most college-educated men I know. And hard working. And smart. He's always known what to do. The smell of raw fish--my Dad the fisherman, cleaning out fish in our yard. Fertilizer, the real kind. Fresh cut grass. My Dad, the gardener working on his beautiful garden. Gorgeous. People would visit us just to see it. My Dad, the father. The brother. The husband. The grandfather. My Daddy.

I want to get up there and tell him all these things while I hold his hand. I want to enjoy his moments of lucidity and awakeness though those are fewer and farther between. I want to tell him yet again, even though I know he knows, that I love him. I want to hold my Mom while she grieves and cries even though it will hurt. How can it be that after he dies, when we visit, we'll be visiting my widowed mother living by herself? How can it be that we'll visit my Dad at his grave? (I'm so putting tennis balls there instead of flowers.)

I want to be with my Dad so much, but it will be so difficult to walk away. I don't know how my legs will have the strength. I'm so scared of walking away.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Weather Anyone?

When we have a party we usually have to ask friends to bring ice since we rarely have any. I guess this is what we get. Some of the pictures are a little fuzzy--the ice and cold were wreaking havoc with my focus.

We actually were without power from before 6 am to after 3:30 pm. Some great friends who live just down the street actually had power so they invited us to warm up and eat with them. We gladly accepted their offer since we spent a good portion of the morning watching the thermostat drop steadily. I also spent over an hour trying to chip ice off of our walkway and sidewalk. Not my favorite wintertime activity, I must say.

So, we had a nice afternoon with good friends, food, and games. Well, we brought the bad luck and their power went off at around 1:30 or so. Luckily they have a gas fireplace around which we sat and played. I'm assuming they have power now since S was IM'ing over there this morning. All in all we are quite fortunate. There are large areas of the county still without electricity and they are being told it could still be a few more days yet. Hopefully it gets straightened out soon because it's cold out there!

Can you believe this kid?

First, sushi. Now, acupuncture?!

K was having horrible allergies last week with all of the precipitation we've been getting, and she was wheezing quite a bit. We used good 'ol Primatine one night and it seemed to help. The next day K was complaining about how awful the stuff tastes after inhaling it, and Mommy says, "Acupuncture could help that."

K has been very curious about the whole process, and at times she seems very frustrated that she can't get on board with the whole stick-needles-in-me-for-health thing. She loves trying new things--foods, games, whatever--so I know she's been wanting to try acupuncture if it weren't for those needles. So, Mommy says what she says, I tell K the medicine seemed to help her, and lights go on, wheels spin, and off she goes.

She comes back a little later and tells me she may want to try acupuncture after all. Then she comes back like 30 seconds later and tells me she want to try it now. How's that for knowing what you want? She said she was still scared, but seemed to like the idea of 9 needles in her body better than inhaling some chemical (wise choice, in my opinion).

Here's proof that she may be one of the bravest 7 year-olds I know:

Nine needles, so what? Good news is she's been much better since that point. One more believer in our house.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Night at Sonic (or, Gaining Weight, the Easy Way)

Do I count as a guest blogger if I'm more than 50% addicted to blogging?

Sonic was nuts tonight! They had guys in the parking lot waving their arms like the guys with the glow sticks on the tarmac so everyone could proceed safely to the drive-thru or stalls. We chose a stall.

So the menu looks great, and the 40-pound 7 year-old girl in the back seat notices the item on the menu big enough that it requires two animals and a small farm to produce it: the Bacon Cheeseburger TOASTER sandwich. Oh, and onion rings. And a lemon-berry limeade.

"You sure that's enough back there?"

"I think so. If not I'll tell you."

Of course, K is the one that immediately scopes out all the options on the table, so I know she'll be begging a bite of everything at some point.

Meanwhile, M's biggest concern is whether or not they put mustard on the Extra-Long Chili Cheese Coney. So the 4 year-old "man," also in the back seat, needs something "extra long" to satisfy his hunger. Oh, and popcorn chicken, "the big one." And Tots. And a Lime Slush.

As Little Miss in the front seat drools over just about everything on the menu, the peanut gallery is in the back chanting.

"Don't forget the onion rings."

"Did you order the popcorn chicken?"

"Don't forget the limeade."

"And the slush . . . the green one."

At this point I'm thinking, Holy crap! This is an event! And then I'm thinking, I'd better write this down. So then I ask, "What did everyone want?" Third base.

Okay, so we start over, me with pen in hand. A huge sandwich frowned on by PETA, something extra-long, lots of fried sides, a couple of fruity drinks. Now, Mommy.

Mommy would blow away in a spring breeze, but she's got her eyes on the "healthy choice," the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, light on the mayo. That'll cancel out the Cheesecake Bites we added to the end of the order.

Finally, my turn to decide. At this point K is drooling so much I hear a leaky faucet from the back seat. M is still chanting, "Did you get my slush?" Little Miss wonders why we haven't pushed that little order button, and I'm wondering why we left our house at 4:45 and still hit a dinner rush. OK, the Sonic Cheeseburger. Classic.

Now, time to order.

This poor girl on the other end of that faceless voice box thought our order would never end. And just when I got to the end of my chicken scratch list, Miss How-the-Hell-Do-You-Eat-Like-This-and-Barely-Register-
Triple-Digits says, "And a Coconut Cream Pie Shake." Cool. Pie you can drink. That way you can skip digestion and proceed directly to fat accumulation. "It's okay. I stress it off," she says.

$30 bucks. Get one of each, so you know what to come back for.

I fully expected to wait for quite a while for a crack team to be assembled in order to fulfill this order, but it was there in no time. On roller blades. Good thing since K almost cried when she saw people delivering food on foot! The carhop did a double take as I'm sure she expected a church bus on a Bible retreat with all the food we ordered, but I assured her that yes, two adults and two children would devour this food, and possibly ask for more. I asked her if people tip the carhops, and she said you can but it's not required. After hauling all the gear up Mt. Everest I'm sure they tip the shirpas, so I tipped her. She was happy. She also left her "Why Beer is Better Than Women" pen behind. It changes reasons when you click it.

"Because at the bar you can always pick up a beer."

Let the fun really begin!

"Over your plate," is the usual battle cry at home when we eat, so you can imagine how well an Extra-Long Chili Cheese Coney went over in the back seat in the hands of a 4 year-old boy. Most of it ended up in his mouth. A little on the neck. Not bad.

K had a bite of everything; most was declared to be "The best ______ I've ever had."

Little Miss spent most of the first few minutes distributing food. And then attacked her sandwich. Big thumbs up.

I bit into my burger and was quite pleased.

Of course we passed everything around to get the full experience and it was all very good. After biting into K's burger the universal opinion was, "Wow!" Even our "bacon, not so mucher" in the front seat loved the burger.

We forgot to ask for sauces for everything so we flagged down someone for that. Then we definitely needed more napkins because we were just that sloppy. Plus, they only gave us 3 cheesecake bites when we ordered 5, and heaven knows my arteries needed the other two. So, I waved someone down again, pulled a Gary by dumping an open barbecue sauce on the ground (sorry Dad--but you have that gift) but only after bouncing it off my leg. I just washed these pants so I was sure that sauce was all over me and the floor. But I am pleased to announce that the packet landed open side up and didn't leave any on me. Score one for the gods of cleanliness. But I digress . . .

So the carhop says she'll get us a fresh order of 5 cheesecake bites. I beg her to just bring the other two, but we all know how this is going to end up. A full order of 5 show up at our window just as K is announcing that she's too full to eat more. The sounds of chewing are slowing, and I'm left with these random thoughts:

* A family of four consumed on this evening enough calories to feed some developing countries for a week. (4500 + 8 cheesecake bites - one onion ring)
* Sonic really is better than other fast food.
* They should add Lipitor as an additive to their shakes, or sprinkle it over the fried stuff.
* We ate the meat from three animals tonight, and it wasn't Turducken.
* It's really cool how you can put your credit card in the little slot where you order.
* How could we eat so much, and yet leave one onion ring in the bag?
* When does the hurt go away?

We really did have a lot of fun and Little Miss is already planning on taking the kids back for the Sonic version of Happy Hour--discounted drinks in the afternoon. On the way home we had to pick up a few things from the grocery store so I figured if I'd park 11 spaces from the door and jog in and out.

That's gotta count for something!

The Twelve Days of Christmas . . . or something like that anyway

These guys are realllly good and pretty funny, too! It's well done. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I want my Mom!

Forgive me in advance. I'm going to totally whine here. It's been a very long day.

I want my Mom. I'm safe to write this here because my Mom generally looks at this when I tell her I've posted pictures. So, she likely won't even notice this. And even if she does, this isn't even any sort of anger directed at her. I just wouldn't want to make her feel badly. She has more than enough on her plate and I do understand that and feel really badly for her. She is full-time (plus some . . . plus a lot!) caregiving to my Dad and it's not easy. I ache for her. I don't know if she knows that or not, but it's true.

Anyway (whine on) I want my Mom. We're making progress and we're happy with that, but so often I get to a room or a bunch of boxes or a project and stare and feel so "bleh" and lonesome for my Mom. I want her here as moral support. I want her here for hands on help. I want her here to hang out with. I want to go out to dinner and laugh with her. I want her to play with the kids while I do dishes or unpack a box.

I'm not generally a jealous person at all. I don't envy "stuff." I couldn't care less what so-and-so drives or what brand names they wear. I don't even know brand names! I do feel the green-eyed monster though when I see Moms and Dads visiting their adult kids and grandparents visiting their grandkids. I have a friend who's expecting. Her Mom will help her out when the baby arrives. For at least a month! I have another friend who has recently moved. Who helped? Her Mom. For weeks!! I have friends who are in residency. Who's visiting several times a year for moral and hands-on support? Well, his mom, but still. We have come to recognize that those who survive residency well have that sort of extended family support. That can be a big help on those tough rotations. Another friend recently posted on her blog that one thing she is totally sure of is that her parents would do anything for her. And from her other posts, that certainly seems true!

Anyway, it's been like this for years. With my Dad's health issues and them not traveling much, I've sort of gotten used to it. Well, I guess not entirely since I'm writing this. They say you're never too old for your Mom and Dad. It's true. Thing is, I'm young! And I've spent years getting used to not having them around much. And I'm one of two kids! So, it's not that they're spread thin with a dozen children. :P My Mom hasn't come to our wedding shower. My Mom hasn't helped me wedding dress shop. My mom hasn't been to any of our baby showers. My parents and brother weren't at my graduation from Graduate School. We spend very few holidays and birthdays together. And they don't even live that far away. Again, this isn't blame or anger or anything like that. We're not the best at traveling to see people either. In fact, we rarely do. For a number of reasons--some financial, some logistics, some deeply personal ones that are too painful to share. So this isn't an angry post. This is a longing post. I want my Mom. I'm comfortable around her with this sort of stuff--moving, cooking, talking, etc. I want my Mom.

We talk almost daily on the phone, but I still feel like there's so much they don't know about what's up with us. I mean, they know the basics and fun stories, but I'm not sharing a lot of the stressful aspects, because they have enough on their plates. When we talk, it's about Dad and Dad's health, and my Mom's caregiving. It's not generally about how much we've unpacked (or haven't) or what's been stressful for us. And that's okay. I totally understand that. But that doesn't mean I don't miss sharing those things and longing for a sympathetic response. It would only make my Mom feel worse that she's not here helping. And I don't want to do that to her.

We're grateful for the visits we DO get and the fun things we DO do. I'm so grateful for good, thoughtful friends and the "fill ins." And since we haven't ever lived right next door to family, we seem to have a lot of those--Gessels, Baldwins, Leedoms all come to mind, but I don't dare make a full list because I'm sure I'd leave someone out and I don't want to do that. We're grateful for motherly and grandmotherly types who look out for us, come to our kids' birthday parties, invite us over for Thanksgiving, help us with home projects, check in and see how we're doing. It means a lot and it fills a sort of "void," I guess. Not completely, of course. Because it's not the same as your own Mom. But it's helpful and sooooooo very appreciated. I sometimes wonder if there are people we know and love who are longing to do more mothering and grandmothering . . . maybe we could mutually benefit one another! :P Heh. Sigh.

Anyway, sorry to be such a downer. I don't really feel down or dejected. I sort of feel like I'm grieving a bit, I guess. I suppose that's normal with all that's going on with my Dad and my Mom. I think it would be so neat to have my Mom and Dad show up at the door, hug us, hang out with us, see our house, see our business, play with the kids, eat dinner with us. I don't know what has me so deep in thought. Could be the holidays. Could be the weather. Could be (and probably is) that I'm struggling with what's going on with my parents and reconciling that with my own issues, I guess. I don't know.


I'm simply saying, I want my Mom.


So, we decide to enjoy FHE at our new Sonic restaurant yesterday. We get there and it's not open. Urgh.

Mark runs some errands today and he and M notice that it is OPEN!! HUGE line of cars, though.

Anyway, we've had Sonic in Arizona. I don't remember not liking it, but I don't remember it being particularly memorable either. However, everyone is RAVING about Sonic. So, for those familiar with it, do you love Sonic? What do you love about Sonic? What do you like to order there? Inquiring minds . . .

I've found an online twin!

Yes, I know. I've already posted this. But it's small and between lots of posts and pictures. And this is too hilarious to not share well. So, I'm posting again. Read it. It's soooooooooooo funny. And for those who can relate, it's almost scary how true it is! Enjoy!

I found a hilariously funny laugh-out-loud post. If only it weren't so true . . .

It's called My Nemesis: The Phone

I heart this post.

When kids say what we say . . .

So, after reading this post on my friend Nicole's blog, I'm reminded of a dinner time story from a week or so ago.

We're sitting at dinner. M decides to be funny and fool around under the table, making K laugh. (He excels at this). Through her laughter, she sweetly looks at him and asks, "What in the hell are you doing under the table?"

I sit there not sure I've heard correctly.

"What did you say?"

She smiles proudly and sweetly (and rather innocently) and replies, "What in the hell are you doing under the table."

Mark and I look at each other somewhat stunned, not sure where this is coming from. Not that we don't say "hell" now and then but we don't say it that much and we generally don't use that particular phrase at all.

"Honey, where have you heard that phrase?"

She excitedly replies, "Harry Potter! Ron says it all the time!"

Sigh. This is what happens when you read books.

Monday, December 10, 2007

World's Biggest Dork

I Googled "World's Biggest Dork Award" on images and couldn't find much more than pictures of geeks at Star Trek conventions. So, apparently there isn't any such award. However, there should be such an award. And today, I would be its proud recipient.

Today, we watched a bit of Al Gore's acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize on C-Span (okay, we're not total dorks, but while flipping through looking for PBS shows, I happened to see it and explained to the kids what a huge honor it is to get a Nobel Prize and all about Gore's work for the environment, even showing them a copy the "An Inconvenient Truth" DVD we're borrowing from a friend. All right, we're that dorky). As deserving as he is to get his award, I would be equally as deserving of the Dork Award.

You see, blog lover that I am (this may beat Emily's best blog addiction story . . . well, maybe not, but anyway!), I just knew that I had read something somewhere today about a woman fixing her own washing machine. And I really wanted to find it, since ours might have a leak.

So, I searched. I read blogs. I reread the same blog posts three times *sure* that I had read it on Dawn's blog (that Pokemon eBay lady who's writing a book). Nope, not there. So, I searched my history. And opened every tab already open (and that's a lot of tabs and a lot of windows) as well as those in my history. And I read through friend's blogs. Nothing. So I searched through email. Gmail. Every email and attachment from today. Nope. I was perplexed. How could this be? I'm SURE I've read that someplace today. I can SEE the words in my mind. White background. Black letters.

So, I dejectedly walked away from the computer frustrated that I couldn't find it after about an hour of searching. So, we tuck the kids in. And I'm OBSESSING. Totally obsessing. I do that when I'm feeling anxious--I think it's my attempt at securing some control. And our rooms full of moving boxes and things to go through and things to organize and things to do and family stuff and business stuff and homeschool stuff and gosh don't even get me started on the holidays (you know what I want for Christmas? To be unpacked, organized, settled in, caught up on stuff, and maybe even relaxed about it--or is that asking too much) has me feeling, oh, a bit frazzled. And the water leakage from our washer isn't helping. At all. We were going to finish a room this evening--maybe even hanging things up on the walls, watch a bit of a Ocean's 13 (Imagine!), and get to bed early. Instead, we're ripping up flooring, testing the washer, and getting little sleep. Again. (And yes, I'm blogging for some sanity--don't judge me!). So, I obsess sometimes. I'll call a therapist tomorrow.

Back to my story, we tuck the kids in and I'm in my head obsessing about where I've read that and why I can't find it on the computer.

"This doesn't make any sense. I know I read that today."

And then. Light. Dawning. Slowly.

"Or maybe I talked to someone about this? Like a real person on the phone?"

And then the realization.

"Terrie. Terrie!"

So, dork that I am, I run to the phone and call Terrie (I run since it's 9:10 and generally bad manners to call someone after 9--or so I've found out once when calling a friend at 10pm, which is what I thought the rule was. She nicely corrected me on that). And I ask if we talked about washing machines today. I'm totally relieved when she reminds me of our conversation. PHEW. I knew that was today. So, I heard it instead of read it. Big woop.

Oh, so what about the visualizing? The black letters and the white background? Yeah, well, I constantly spell things in my head. That alone should earn me the award.

Omigosh, I've found my online twin!

I found a hilariously funny laugh-out-loud post. If only it weren't so true . . .

It's called My Nemesis: The Phone

I heart this post.

Several New Posts . . . and a little griping

So you know, I've been saving posts to do one at a time, but I've decided to post a bunch at a time, so enjoy the next several posts! :D

Meanwhile, we're working on a washing machine leak (and, possibly, a broken washing machine) and some messed up flooring due to said leak. This really, REALLY stinks. It feels like 10 steps backward for our recent few steps forward. UGH. Ugh ugh ugh. We're also dealing with some business stuff. Extended Family Stuff. And we're extremely behind on holiday stuff. Whine. Complain. Whine. Complain. I know. But UGH. And the stupid gas company, unbelievably, still has our 2K held hostage. We're hoping their call today from our lawyer (thank you!) kicks their butts into some serious check writing action. Urgh. And grrrrrrrrrrrrr. And a little ROAR. Hmph. Whaaaaa.

Biscoitos and More Progress

We've gotten tons done and we're thrilled with that! We've made some yummy Portuguese Christmas Cookies (Biscoitos) and we've worked on more mini home projects. Mark has done A TON!! I'm so impressed with how much he does and how well he does it . . . with EVERYTHING. He's amazing.

Yeah, so I took this one the next day. My hubby makes GREAT Portuguese Food, including these yummy cookies!
More progress on the living room--that door goes to what's used as a closet . . .

We're SO HAPPY with our closet! Our ultra-cool, organized, alphabetized, game and media closet:

We LOVE games!

Alphabetized music and DVDs:

Alphabetized videos:

Our friend Jonathon helped us get our freezer out to the Carriage House (amazingly, there's no room in our gargantuan house--it doesn't fit down the stairs to the basement). This clears out the kitchen a lot and allows our dear 9-month pregnant friends to be able to get around the corner and to the mudroom and bathroom (yes, that's been an issue). :P

Playing in the Snow!

What a fun afternoon (December 5th--that's for Emily's reference wondering about our warm Thanksgiving weather) playing in the snow with our good friends and neighbors!

Making Progress

(Editor's note--I wrote this days ago but have been posting a different post daily--with more to come--so as to not overwhelm). I guess it's relative. I sometimes feel we're making slow progress and then friends come over and exclaim how quickly we're doing things. It's all in how you look at it! Either way, hurrah for making progress!! (Another Editor's note--And omigosh, thank you to Jen and her Mom for coming over yesterday and unpacking more boxes, moving stuff, throwing stuff out, organizing stuff, helping put together furniture, etc.!!)

Our freezer really doesn't fit there, so it's geting moved, but in the meantime . . .

We've since decorated a bit more in here. Pictures coming . . .

Working on the living room:

Playing in the living room:

Yikes, overflow from the den to the living room. How do people have so much stuff? That blanket is covering the window (we're putting in enclosed blinds). I don't like when people can see in and we can't see out (at night). Gives me the creeps. Hence, the blanket.
We've cleared out more of the dining room (by far the messiest, most full-of-boxes room in the house) and we've put up bookshelves--We LOVE books!

Living Room/Den

Yeah, we're sleeping on mattresses on the floor :P

Enjoying "The Nutcracker" with our homeschool group:

This is a functioning dumbwaiter--that open door is what we use as a coat closet. The dumbwaiter is in the basement (so where Mark's installed carpet is the top of the dumbwaiter) and we've painted over the old wallpaper/wood inside with that brown (helps with the musty smell) and we've put in that carpet patch (also helps with the musty smell). The door above the closet is where the crank is for the dumbwaiter. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the charm of our old house!! There are SO MANY COOL THINGS! We're doing a post (at some point) with all kinds of cool, charming things about our 1850s farmhouse!!

Getting stuff on the walls and hanging curtains makes it soooooo homey . . .

"I'm a tie fighter pilot!"